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Grant Ward, a HYDRA agent trained in the skill of being a sniper,  fell in love with Kara Palamas, but she died in his arms, drowning on her own blood when Ward accidentally shot her during the Kidnapping of Bobbi Morse; he swore that he would gain closure for her death, blaming S.H.I.E.L.D., and its director Phil Coulson, in particular.
Coulson fell in love with Rosalind Price after discovering how much they had in common. Though he learned that she had ties with Gideon Malick, who had ties with HYDRA, since she was being used, he excused her missteps and decided to apologize for his mistrust and pursue the relationship.
As Phil Coulson and Rosalind Price sat down at the fast food dinner she had gotten and candlelight setting he had prepared, they smiled at one another for they finally had trust. The two discussed how she was going to work in the morning at the Advanced Threat Containment Unit and would act as if it were an ordinary day while Price researched Gideon Malick and his connections to recent events.
Suddenly, Coulson heard the window crack and his eyes diverted there for the briefest second; when he turned back to Price, she was clutching her neck as blood dripped over her hand. Coulson realized that his lover had been shot. Coulson pulled Price from her chair and laid her on the ground, begging her to stay with him, but Price lost too much blood and died, leaving Coulson shattered.
Still trying to grasp what had happened, a phone rang; Coulson picked up, only to hear Grant Ward taunting him for finally feeling the pain he had felt when Kara Palamas died. Filled with rage, Coulson swore to find Ward and kill him for what he had done to Price. Ward warned Coulson that he had sent men to kill him and terminated the call as his men entered the building.
Realizing his predicament, Coulson called for extraction and began looking for ways to survive until his team could arrive. As two men entered the apartment, Coulson shot them and before others could arrive, rigged an explosive as a distraction. The plan worked and Coulson brought down three more agents, exiting the apartment and climbing out a window, only to be confronted by more men. Taking cover, Coulson engaged in a shootout until Alphonso Mackenzie drove up and extracted him.
Alphonso Mackenzie took Phil Coulson to the Playground where Coulson had a fit of emotional pain and anger, as the other agents who saw him enter with a bloody shirt, listened quietly. Afterwards, Coulson had each of the members of his original team interrogated; he asked for any minute detail each could give on their experiences with Grant Ward. Coulson realized that Grant still loved his younger brother Thomas.
Coulson made Mackenzie the temporary leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. before he took Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse with him to kidnap Thomas Ward from his place of employment. Coulson called Grant and showed him a picture of Thomas with Hunter holding a gun to his head. Ultimately, a phone call between the Wards was traced to the HYDRA Castle in Gloucestershire, England and Coulson told Grant that he was coming to kill him.